Silence That Can Be Dangerous: A Vignette Study to Assess Healthcare Professionals' Likelihood of Speaking up about Safety Concerns

Schwappach, David; Gehring, Katrin (2014). Silence That Can Be Dangerous: A Vignette Study to Assess Healthcare Professionals' Likelihood of Speaking up about Safety Concerns. PLoS ONE, 9(8), e104720. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0104720

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PURPOSE

To investigate the likelihood of speaking up about patient safety in oncology and to clarify the effect of clinical and situational context factors on the likelihood of voicing concerns.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

1013 nurses and doctors in oncology rated four clinical vignettes describing coworkers' errors and rule violations in a self-administered factorial survey (65% response rate). Multiple regression analysis was used to model the likelihood of speaking up as outcome of vignette attributes, responder's evaluations of the situation and personal characteristics.

RESULTS

Respondents reported a high likelihood of speaking up about patient safety but the variation between and within types of errors and rule violations was substantial. Staff without managerial function provided significantly higher levels of decision difficulty and discomfort to speak up. Based on the information presented in the vignettes, 74%-96% would speak up towards a supervisor failing to check a prescription, 45%-81% would point a coworker to a missed hand disinfection, 82%-94% would speak up towards nurses who violate a safety rule in medication preparation, and 59%-92% would question a doctor violating a safety rule in lumbar puncture. Several vignette attributes predicted the likelihood of speaking up. Perceived potential harm, anticipated discomfort, and decision difficulty were significant predictors of the likelihood of speaking up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinicians' willingness to speak up about patient safety is considerably affected by contextual factors. Physicians and nurses without managerial function report substantial discomfort with speaking up. Oncology departments should provide staff with clear guidance and trainings on when and how to voice safety concerns.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwappach, David

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2014 16:37

Last Modified:

28 Nov 2020 02:24

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0104720

PubMed ID:

25116338

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.58500

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/58500

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